The Social Studies of Computing Research Group provides a research community for scholars at McGill University studying the sociology, history and philosophy of computer science. This includes areas such as computer science education and gender studies in computing.
Topics we study include how computer science as a field has been shaped by social forces, how the field went from female-dominated to male-dominated, policy issues affecting who can become a computer scientist, the practices of computer science educators, the role of education in establishing what is computer science, and social theories surrounding technology and oppressed groups.
To learn more about computer science education research, science and technology studies (STS), and the history and philosophy of science (HPS), see "what is the social studies of computer science?".
We welcome applications from prospective graduate students. Contact Elizabeth Patitsas for more information.
Our mission is to:
- Bring together researchers interested in the social studies of computing, both at McGill and beyond. Scholars who do this sort of research belong to many different research communities, including computer science education, HPS, STS, empirical software engineering, human factors, human-computer interaction, and information studies. Our goal is to form connections across these different research communities based on a common interest in the social studies of computing.
- Build capacity in this research area. As computing plays an increasingly important role in society we need more people to understand how computing is affected by social forces, how to effectively teach computing to numerous audiences, and how to dismantle the oppressive power structures within the culture of computing.
- Produce quality research on the social studies of computing, and to disseminate this research in an accessible way to the audiences who stand to benefit from knowing about it (e.g. computer scientists, policymakers, CS students)
We run two reading groups:
- Sociology, History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Education of Computer Science (SHAPE of CS) on research about what shapes CS as a field and other topics from the sociology, history, anthropology, philosophy and education of CS.
- Inclusive Teaching And Learning In Computer Science (ITALICS) on how students learn computing topics and how to effectively teach them. This reading group is aimed at computer science educators who wish to improve their teaching.
From time to time, we also host invited speakers. Information for invited talks will be posted to the SHAPE of CS mailing list.
For more events and resources relevant to the social studies of CS, see our resources page.
Announcements for the group and other information are posted to our Twitter account and our Google calendar:
We would like to acknowledge that our group is based on what is the traditional and unceded territory of the Kanien'keha:ka (Mohawk). Tiohtiá:ke, now commonly known as Montreal, is historically known as a gathering place for many nations. Today it is home to a diverse population of both Indigenous and other peoples.
We make this land acknowledgment not only as a form of recognition, but for educational purposes. It is our hope that reading this land acknowledgment will encourage you to learn more about:
- The history of the Kanien'keha:ka Nation, other Indigenous people, and the relevant terminology
- The issues facing Indigenous populations today, including the legacy of residential schools
- Indigenous science and technology, including the misconceptions about Indigenous science, and Native American scientific & technological contributions
- Indigenous epistemology and perspectives on science, particularly the rejection of disciplinary boundaries
For more information about the group, contact Elizabeth Patitsas (elizabeth dot patitsas at mcgill.ca). Contact information for members of the group can be found on the people page.